To Lose a Friend Part II – Sam’s Grief

by Drs. Foster and Smith on February 8, 2010

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Sam loved to sneak up and take Dutch's chewies even though he had his own!

Sam loved to sneak up and take Dutch's chewies even though he had his own!

**Guest post from Heath S.**

Part one of this post was the devastating loss of Dutch, our much-loved Golden Retriever as the result of congestive heart failure a few months ago. As the weeks passed, we all suffered and missed Dutch dearly; including Sam, our other Golden whom Dutch looked over and protected.  They had been best friends and always stayed together. None of us had realized the grief Sam would endure after the loss of his pal.

We began to see a difference in Sam. He would no longer greet anyone when they came to the door. He lost his appetite and was very restless. We knew we had to help him through this. In the past, they had each other. When I would get home, they would greet me but then would quickly carry on to whatever mischief they were getting into. My wife and I were very concerned and began lavishing attention onto Sam. Rawhide treats, Skineez (his favorite toy), we even began letting him up on the furniture to sit with us, something that was a big “no no” in the past.

Sam was like this for weeks.

Sam was like this for weeks.

As the weeks turned into months, Sam has slowly started to come around. He sits in my chair waiting for everyone to get home at the end of the day. The bond we have now is different from before.  As I watch him longing for his pal, I realize pets’ emotions are very much like our own. Sam strives for attention from me when I get home now. Although you can tell he still longs for Dutch, he has come a long way.

The loss of Dutch suddenly put Sam on the hierarchy to watch over the family. I have a very early schedule and he would never be up when I prepared for work.   He now wakes with my alarm and is waiting at the bedside to greet me in the morning. Sometimes he just sits and stares, and makes me  wonder exactly what’s going on in that intelligent head of his. His energy level has increased as well as his appetite.

Sam and I.

Sam and I.

We had purchased two of the quilted dog beds when both Sam and Dutch were together.  My wife was going to remove Dutch’s but we decided to keep it next to Sam’s.  To this day, Sam will only sleep on Dutch’s bed.  I look at it as kind of a security blanket for Sam.

Sam now goes everywhere with us, he just loves to be around us.  That little twinkle is back in his eyes and I can still see that rambunctious little puppy in him again.

I now share my chair with him. I stop and take time for him, no matter what type of day I had. Just as pets are our companions, in their world other pets are also their companions.

Sam and I with one of his Christmas gifts from Drs. Foster & Smith

Sam and I with one of his Christmas gifts from Drs. Foster & Smith

Sam is like Dutch, one of a kind.  Each with their own personality that differs so much, yet they’re so much alike.  Seeing Sam grieve made me open my eyes to the mentality of our pets. After spending so much time watching over him and noticing everything he does, I can almost tell what type of mood he is in from day to day.

Miss You Big Guy, Love Sam

Miss You Big Guy, Love Sam

Dutch is very missed, but he left a lot of himself with Sam. Little quirks not noticed before resemble the way Dutch acted and now make me chuckle.  Sam is now the dog of the house and seems very content.

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February 8, 2010 at 8:31 am

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Ellen B. February 8, 2010 at 9:38 am

It had to be heartbreaking for you to watch Sam go through his grief process. Thanks for a great post, so important for pet owners to realize that pets grieve similarly to people.

Tina C. February 8, 2010 at 9:46 am

Thank you for sharing this story, Heath. Sam is truly lucky to have a family like yours to help him get through his grief

Melissa February 8, 2010 at 9:48 am

When my Irish Setter Molly passed away – Mocca, my other dog, would, for several weeks, go check in the bedroom to see if Molly was there. So sad! Thanks for the great story Heath.

Janet February 8, 2010 at 2:59 pm

I’ve thought about how hard it will be for me when I lose my older dog, but never thought about how hard it could be on my other pets. It’s good to think about this ahead of time. Thanks for the post.

Betsy February 8, 2010 at 7:53 pm

I see much of the same with Missy, our 13 1/2 yr old Golden Retriever, since we’ve put her sister down due to cancer of the foot (and later forearm). Missy will position herself in a spot in the kitchen where she can see three entry points at once – front door, back door, and entry from the back hallway – waiting for Shadow to return. We’d taken them both to the vet for Shadow’s euthanasia, so Missy could witness her sister “going to sleep” and not coming back home with us. Over 6 months later, Missy began to seek out the carrier that we took Shadow to the vet in. I will find that she’s left her regular Igloo sleeping quarters at night and has traveled in the dark of the garage to get into the carrier. I’m certain that she finds comfort resting/sleeping in the last place (here at the house) that her sister did. I now plug a night light in for her, to help her find her way

Barb February 12, 2010 at 10:38 am

I’ve found that grieving often starts before our pets are gone. I think a lot of people are so unhappy and suffering during their pet’s illness that they miss out on what can be a very special time together. There is even a term for this period in our pets’ lives when we are preparing to say goodbye: anticipatory grief. I am so thankful for a book about this, called The Legacy of Beezer and Boomer. The author, Doug Koktavy, writes about what he went through during his two Labrador retrievers’ terminal illnesses. He says the experience wasn’t the worst of times, it was the richest. I will read this book again and again as my two family members, Alex, my Siberian husky, and Toby, my puggle, come to this sad part of their life circles.

Liz February 13, 2010 at 11:57 am

I have no doubt that dogs grieve – I have a torn down door to prove it!

We had to euthanize our collie, Maddie, due to bloat – totally unexpected. It took us all by surprise. Shannon, our shepherd/lab mix, had grown up with Maddie, never really been without him. When we came back from the vet, she knew something was wrong (she knew something was wrong with Maddie before we did – should have paid more attention to the dog.)

It took well over a month for Shannon to recover from her grief, including the use of medication and training. She was terrified to be alone, destructive, panicked – you name it – and wandering around the house and yard looking for “her favorite furry chew toy.” For three weeks, I couldn’t let her out of my sight, she was with me 24 hours a day, until after enough intensive work, I felt safe enough to leave her alone for a few minutes, then stretching that into longer periods. This was an extreme example, but it just shows the depth of attachment that dogs create as well as people.

I guess the lesson I learned was – don’t ignore the pain that the animal who is left behind is in – take care of them, whatever it takes.

Lisa Corbin April 10, 2010 at 8:57 am

Im looking for an answer for my problem. How did you ever get Sam to eat. My oldest dog died at the age of 12 from cancer and I still have her pup which is 7 I have tried everything to get her to eat at times she does but more often not and Im really worried Suzi just died March12th if anyone out there has any ideas please share them with me

Doc Jensen April 15, 2011 at 8:41 am

Thank you for sharing, especially the photos. I just lost my 14 Y/O Golden Wednesday. She died during a surgery, which was totally unexpected. Her buddy, my 10 Y/O Golden is despondent. I am having a really tough time getting through this because I did not have the opportunity to say ‘Good By”.I have put two other Goldens to sleep over the years, and the heart ache was not even close to what I am experiencing now.

Vicki Scipio August 21, 2011 at 1:50 pm

We just put our 9 year old Golden (Woody) down last Tuesday, 8/16/11 due to Canine Lymphoma. It was devastating to us and to our other English Cream Golden (Samson) because he was taken from us so quickly. We adopted Woody from a family that could no longer keep him in June of 2008 and at that time we had another Golden, Dakota. They learned to love each other and became the best of buddies. Little did we know that in October of that year we would have to put Dakota down due to Hemangioscarcoma at the age of 10. Again we were devastated and didn’t think we could move on but now when we look at it it was as if Woody was an Angel sent to us to do his part to make grieving for Dakota a little easier and he did just that! The following year we got Samson and oh my, did Woody have to go through some torment from that little guy but again they became the best of friends until last Tuesday when Sammy’s best friend had to be taken from him. Sammy’s not a little guy anymore, he is now 2 but Woody was with him from the first day he came here and I believe he is going through a very difficult time right now coping. He never gets sick and throws up but he has done it twice this week after being left alone for a few hours. We think that anxiety from the loss of Woody is what he’s going through especially when left alone.
Thanks for listening, it was nice to vent to all those who understand that losing a pet is like losing a member of the family. It is so nice and comforting to read everyone’s stories because we all feel each others pain.

Joannem October 9, 2011 at 1:03 am

I too lost my Xena one week ago. Her son is 9years old and is grieving, so are we. Your article has helped a lot.

Sam March 7, 2012 at 2:56 pm

My name is Samantha or Sam for short. My husband is Dutchie but everyone calls him Dutch. A simple google search of our names “Sam and Dutch” brought me to your post. Reading this about Sam’s devastation at the loss of such a close loved one really hit hard for me, made me think about how I would feel if I lost my Dutch. Hope Sam is doing better, as well as the rest of the family.

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